The Nkisi

Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were in need of money so they brought in some Polaroid pictures of an African statue they had in their family for decades. Every picture was burry around the face so I asked if they would bring it in. A couple of hours later, they walked in carrying an old ominous statue hoping to sell it. I asked for them to provide us with any history they may had of the item.

The item had been in their family for decades being passed down from generation to generation. As long as they had it, it sat in a far corner of the family living room giving view to most areas of the house. To their knowledge, they were always told that it was a fertility statue; its violent shards of metal warned me otherwise and I felt that I needed to do more research but bought it anyway.

That evening, after some intensive research, I learned that it was not a fertility statue at all but rather a nkisi from the Congo; otherwise known as a demon vessel used to trap and house a demon. When there is a demon either terrorizing a village, a family or an individual, a n’ganga (person who defends the living against evil spirits) makes the statue and entices the demon through a series of incantations and rituals to possess the nkisi, trapping the spirit inside. After the entity is encased inside and knowing that demons are prideful, the n’ganga will give the nkisi tin eyes providing the demon the ability to see out and see who has trapped it. This angers the demon causing it to expel negative energy therefore weakening it.

A few days later, Mrs. Johnson came back without her husband with more items to sell. She appeared distant and in pain. She asked if we figured out what the statue was and when I told her its origins, she broke down with a mixture of tears and fright. She was worried asking if there was any way that the demon could have possessed her husband because, ever since the statue was gone from their home, he had been exhibiting some erratic behavior. Trying to comfort her, I explain to her that, as long as all the metal chards are in place, the demon could not get out. She then proceeds to inform me that, while trying to bring the statue to us, her husband tripped, cutting himself with one of the chards as it broke off and fell to the floor. Inadvertently, this caused a blood sacrifice to a demon sequestered for a century and allowing it a place from which to escape.

She proceeds to tell me that ever since the statue left the house, her husband has been hitting her while she slept and that, one night, she woke up with a pain in her back, only to find that she had been sleeping on a large knife. The one thing she couldn’t stop saying was that the nkisi, with the demon inside, had been sitting in her home, watching her family though the tin eyes for decades and waiting for an opportunity to escape.

Mr. Johnson came in a week later asking if there was anything that I could do to rid him of the voice he keeps hearing, filling him with distrust and constantly taunting him to hurt his family. I tried to explain to him that he must not listen to these voices or something beyond regrettable may happen. He said he would try but that the voice is so menacing and strong, he doesn’t know if he can.

We haven’t heard from him or his wife since.